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Raise your hands, if you are ready for a major medical diagnosis in your family?

Not many people’s hands fly up when asked that question. Even 4-H’ers realize their families would be in a tough situation if they ended up in a wreck or very sick.

That’s one of the many reasons 4-H loves Ronald McDonald Houses, because they help support the families of our own youth every day.

Every year, at least one 4-H’er tells us how they’ve stayed in Ronald McDonald Houses near whichever hospital handles their chemotherapy, surgery or other treatment. Their families get to stay in a family-friendly style facility at a fraction of the cost of a hotel.

And best yet: children and parents get to meet other families going through similar situations.

Fifteen years ago, middle school 4-H’ers suggested we collect aluminum pop tabs from soda cans to recycle for Ronald McDonald Houses.

Leaders agreed, and a representative showed up with a station wagon to the statewide 4-H event that fall. We hear 4-H had to deliver the pop tabs in a giant truck that first year, because they didn’t nearly fit in her station wagon!

In the last 15 years, it’s become one of our most well-known service projects, and this year we’re scraping up every last pop tab we can find because we’re oh so close to hitting a grand total of $100,000 in donations!

This year’s collection will benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Augusta.

Please bring your pop tabs to the 4-H office by October to help us reach this goal.

School supplies for Louisiana youth

Many have been looking for ways to help Louisiana families affected by the recent flooding, so we’re excited to take part in a Louisiana 4-H service project.

Louisiana State University extension and 4-H are collecting school supplies for children in affected parishes.

Bought folders that didn’t have the prongs your teacher requested? You keep meaning to return that Paw Patrol backpack? Any and all supplies are welcome for donation!

You may drop off your donations at the 4-H office through Sept. 23.

We are also accepting monetary donations to be used to purchase additional supplies or for shipping costs (please specify). You may drop by in person, call 770-784-2010 for credit donations, or mail checks to Newton County 4-H, 1113 Usher Street, Suite 202, Covington, GA 30014.

Granny squares for premature babies

Members are also collecting granny squares for the Piedmont Newton neonatal intensive care unit again this fall.
Yarn should be soft and unscented, and the squares may be any size, shape or color. One 4-H’er even made beautiful neon squares last year!

The small squares are used by mothers and babies to transfer scent and adjust to being apart.

Two years ago yesterday, my own daughter was born at Newton’s hopsital five weeks early.

She was spirited off to NICU, and I wasn’t even able to see her for the first 26 hours. So many details I don’t remember, but I know each and every one of those 26 excruciatingly long hours.

Within a few hours, though, the lactation consultant arrived with my pump. With photos and a blanket from Audrey’s NICU bed, I desperately sought that connection that would help me to produce the food she needed.

It doesn’t seem like it has been 2 years since I wrote that column from my hospital bed during sleepless night hours between trips to the NICU.

Those little scraps of yarn may not seem like much, but for a mother of a premature infant they can mean everything.
We continued to swap blankets for the remainder of her week’s stay in the NICU, until she could come home with us.
The small granny squares are easy to store and convenient to use, and require much less material than a full blanket.
Food donations

At the 4-H back to school party last week members collected diapers and canned goods for the community food pantry.
Teen leaders will visit the pantry to drop off the donations.

Clubs this month are collecting peanut butter, jelly and other non-perishable items for the food pantry. If you’d like to make a donation, we’d love to add your food to this month’s collection.

Terri Fullerton is a County Extension Agent in 4-H Youth with University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.